SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants left two runners on in the eighth when they could have padded their lead, and two more on in the ninth after giving that lead back. They left the bases loaded in the 10th and stranded a runner on second with two down in the 11th.
They were 2-for-17 with runners in scoring position on Wednesday and have just two hits in their last 35 at-bats with a runner on second or third. They are 6-for-50 with runners on scoring position in their last six games.
It’s a problem, but … sometimes you don’t need a hit in a big spot. Sometimes you don’t need a hit, period.
Brandon Belt led off the 13th inning and got hit by a pitch, and he took second when Russell Martin bounced a throw on a poor bunt. A four-pitch walk loaded the bases and another walk — also on four pitches — brought the winning run home in a 5-4 victory that ruined a potential Blue Jays sweep.
“It wasn’t pretty,” manager Bruce Bochy said, stifling a smile. “It’s good to win any way you can at that point. We’ll take the walk.”
Buster Posey, who was 1-for-6 and repeatedly left runners on, was the one to actually take the winning walk. The celebration was more subdued than your average walk-off, but the Giants didn’t mind one bit.
“It’s a win,” Posey said. “I mean, you get to the point where you’re almost four and a half hours in, it doesn’t really matter.”
[INSTANT REPLAY: Giants walk off on Blue Jays to avoid sweep]
The Giants, rightfully, had no apologies. They did a lot wrong, but also did a lot right while snapping a three-game skid. That started with Madison Bumgarner, who gave up just one earned over 6 2/3 innings while throwing a season-high 116 pitches. Asked to assess Bumgarner’s performance, Posey frowned.
“Uhh …” he said. “That was today, wasn’t it.”
Bumgarner joked that he had nothing to say to reporters since he had been out of the game for so long when it was over. If you go back to the start, though, there were some big positives. Bumgarner was regularly hitting 93 mph after a month spent dealing with a fastball that was down a tick.
“It’s starting to come up,” he said. “It’s part getting into the season and getting everything going, and part of it is my delivery. I’m trying to get it on track and having a rough go of it. Any time you go out there and scuffle and still give the team a chance to win against a lineup like that, you’ll take it.”
This was Bumgarner’s version of scuffling, and it was more than enough. He walked four but held the line, leaving with a 4-1 lead. Cory Gearrin, Josh Osich and Santiago Casilla gave it back, the final run coming on a solo homer in the ninth.
The rest of the bullpen kept the Blue Jays off the board, with rookie Albert Suarez getting through a jam in the top of the 13th to give the lineup yet another chance. When Posey drew ball four, Suarez had his first career win after nine seasons in the minors. Minutes later, he was being doused with beer.
“Oh yeah, it was cold,” he said. “Freezing.”
As Suarez and his teammates celebrated, Bochy prepared to huddle with Dave Righetti. The Giants have played two 13-inning games in the past five days and Bochy was out of pitchers after Suarez took the mound. Jake Peavy, Saturday’s starter, would have been the next man up. Bochy said the staff will talk about adding a pitcher for the upcoming series in Phoenix.
“I’m a little concerned there, to be honest,” he said. “We may need to get some help.”
The conversation will be a more pleasant one than it could have been. The Giants are not playing a terribly inspiring brand of baseball right now, but they won both 13-inning games to salvage a homestand, enough to bring a smile to Bochy’s face as he summed up Wednesday’s positives and negatives.
“That would have been a tough one to lose,” he said.